Macomb County biking: a mixed bag

With only 11 total miles of bike lanes, Oakland County is not even competitive in terms of bike friendliness — except when they’re competing against Macomb County.

Macomb has zero miles of bike lanes.

Harrison Township Supervisor Anthony Forlini tried getting bike lanes but was rebuffed by the Macomb County Road Commission.

Excepted from an archived Macomb Daily editorial, August 18, 2009:

Robert Hoepfner, chief highway engineer for the road commission, has no complaint with bicyclists. But he is concerned about safety. Many county roads simply aren’t wide enough for the kind of designated lanes Forlini described, Hoepfner said.

If county residents want designated areas for bicyclists, “Then let’s build bike paths and make them safe,” he said.

As we noted back in August of 2008 , Hoepfner showed his lack of knowledge on AASHTO design guidelines for bicycle facilities and best practices.

And he apparently hasn’t learned much since then. Just last month he proposed adding a side path to a road widening project. If the road was being widened, why isn’t it being made wide enough for bike lanes? What’s the excuse now?

Bye, Bye Road Commission

Last Tuesday was the last meeting of the Macomb County Road Commission. After creating a county charter, a vote of the people and the amendment of state law, Macomb County was able to combine the county road commission and county government, saving the taxpayers money as well. (Governor Snyder, It shouldn’t be that difficult to combine county government with county road commissions in order to save money.)

Like Wayne County, Macomb County now has a road division as part of county government. It’s accountable to the public, too. They report to the county executive.

Even still, Hoepfner is was named the head of the county road division.

Utica mayor mentions Complete Streets

While Complete Streets policies and ordinances are popping up all over Michigan, there are none in Macomb County.

That might change according to this article in the Advisor & Source Newspapers:

Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan has asked City Attorney William McGrail to look into developing an ordinance based on the “Complete Streets” program, which has already taken root in several Michigan communities.

“This is an important issue and we should take a position on it,” Noonan told the Utica City Council on Dec. 14. “We should set ourselves up to do what seems to be the wave of the future – transportation for the human beings involved.”

“Complete Streets highlights that any improvement should speak to the issue of not just vehicular traffic but pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well,” Noonan said. “It also pays attention to transit development, such as the railroad that runs through this city. All of these issues are brought into play in the movement called Complete Streets.”

Could Utica lead the way to bike friendliness in Utica?

First bike lanes in Macomb?

Despite the positive words from Utica, its more likely that the first bike lanes in Macomb County just south of Selfridge. They would be part of the Lake St. Clair Shoreline Trail project. This project includes a bike lanes along portions of S. River Road, Bridgeview, and N. River Road. The bike lanes connect Jefferson Avenue with the planned shared-use path along the east border of the Selfridge golf course and along the shoreline.

The county’s Request for Quotes (PDF) from last September does provide some additional details on the project.

It remains to be seen what happens in Macomb County, but at least there are some signs of progress.

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4 Responses to “Macomb County biking: a mixed bag”

  1. David Bosch Says:

    You mention that Oakland county has 11 miles of bike lanes and Macomb County has zero miles making both counties bicycle unfriendly. The city of Grand Rapids was able to get a “bike friendly” status in the Fall of 2009 from the League of American Bicyclists with ZERO miles of bike lanes. Apparently the bike friendly status is given out for cities with aspirational transportation goals.

  2. Kate Says:

    I was at the Harrison Township meeting when they discussed phase 1 of the Shorline Trail path. To my surprise they’d already completed the first phase of it by November. There’s now a path connecting the Freedom Trail to South River down Jefferson. Is it a bike lane? No. Is it still something designated for the use of bicycles and greatly increasing safety for everyone, not just regular bicyclists? Yes. It’s infinitely better than nothing.
    Stubborn commission or not Forlini is serious about the need for bicycle facilities and while it may take much longer then it should, Harisson Twp will have them.

  3. Todd Scott Says:

    David, I don’t know all the details about GR’s award, but you may be right. They do have plans to build many miles of bike lanes, and if I’m not mistaken, they’ve started building them. As you probably know, the LAB bike friendly awards are about more than just infrastructure. Cities get points for education, encouragement, and enforcement, too. GR may have scored high in those categories.

  4. Todd Scott Says:

    You’re probably right. I rode with Forlini a couple years back and was impressed. His comments in that Macomb Daily editorial were great.

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